- RSS Channel Showcase 5506349
- RSS Channel Showcase 1016171
- RSS Channel Showcase 7145184
- RSS Channel Showcase 2630322
Articles on this Page
- 07/07/17--04:04: _One man killed in H...
- 07/07/17--03:00: _Parents who push th...
- 07/06/17--20:52: _New York hospital o...
- 07/07/17--03:00: _Officials considere...
- 07/06/17--21:25: _Omar Khadr receives...
- 07/07/17--09:25: _U.S. and Russia hav...
- 07/07/17--11:42: _Pan Am Path mapping...
- 07/07/17--10:00: _Lord love a duck — ...
- 07/07/17--07:33: _Average rent in Tor...
- 07/07/17--10:01: _Going around Trump ...
- 07/07/17--08:45: _Lawyer for U.S. sol...
- 07/07/17--12:01: _6-year-old boy on b...
- 07/07/17--11:10: _Veteran city counci...
- 07/07/17--08:42: _27,000 Torontonians...
- 07/09/17--06:51: _B.C. wildfires cont...
- 07/08/17--15:36: _Two men drown after...
- 07/09/17--03:00: _Why Dr. Andrew Booz...
- 07/08/17--14:17: _Mohawk farmer order...
- 07/08/17--14:57: _Ivanka Trump causes...
- 07/09/17--08:47: _Motorcyclist in lif...
- 07/07/17--04:04: One man killed in Highway 401 crash
- 07/06/17--21:25: Omar Khadr receives $10.5-million settlement from Ottawa: source
- 07/07/17--09:25: U.S. and Russia have agreed to Syria ceasefire, U.S. officials say
- 07/07/17--11:42: Pan Am Path mapping project aims to make trail accessible for all
- 07/07/17--10:00: Lord love a duck — Toronto sure did: Micallef
- 07/07/17--07:33: Average rent in Toronto passes $2,000 a month, report finds
- 07/07/17--12:01: 6-year-old boy on bike struck and killed by vehicle in Richmond Hill
- 07/07/17--11:10: Veteran city councillor Pam McConnell has died at 71
- 07/09/17--06:51: B.C. wildfires continue to rage in hot, dry conditions
- 07/08/17--15:36: Two men drown after boat capsized in rough water in Wasaga Beach
- 07/09/17--03:00: Why Dr. Andrew Boozary has been diagnosed as a superstar
- Launched a new review journal on public health at Harvard University, where he earned a Master’s of Science degree.
- Enlisted a Republican and a Democratic Party senator to help him write a commentary for the top U.S. medical journal on an ultra-partisan aspect of American health-care reform.
- Served as a special adviser on health-care performance and evaluation for Ontario’s health ministry.
- Helped to found and lead the group Open Pharma — a collection of heavy-hitting medical players in Canada that is pushing to make financial ties between the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies in this country more transparent.
- 07/08/17--14:57: Ivanka Trump causes stir as she sits in for father at G20
A man is dead after a two-vehicle collision on eastbound Hwy. 401, west of Victoria Park Ave. early Friday morning.
The crash happened at around 3 a.m. when a car collided with the rear of a transport truck.
The 24-year-old driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ontario Provincial police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said traffic was slowing because of construction in the area and that was when the car rear-ended the truck.
OPP have closed all eastbound collector lanes on Hwy. 401 at Hwy. 404 for the investigation. All lanes are expected to reopen at 9 a.m.
With files from Alanna Rizza
News emerged this week that a baby in B.C. was issued what is believed to be the first health card in history without a gender ID. Instead of F or M, the baby’s health card reads U, shorthand, most likely, for unspecified.
It may not surprise you that the baby’s parent, Kori Doty, a non-binary transgender person who uses the pronoun “they,” wishes to raise their child genderless — for now at least.
“I do not gender my child,” Doty old reporters this week. “I am not going to foreclose their choices based on an arbitrary assignment of gender at birth based on an inspection of their genitals.”
What will Doty do? Wait till their baby is old enough to make up his or her or their own mind about how he, she or they would like to identify. (I’m totally on board with this stuff, but you do have to admit it makes for quite a mouthful.)
And what will we, the people, do? Take sides of course.
There appears to be two vocal schools of thought when it comes to genderless child rearing. There’s the lefty take: “More power to you! Do whatever is necessary to smash that gender binary!” And then there’s the righty, or you could say the alt-righty take: in the words of Canadian conservative commentator Lauren Southern, on Twitter: “This child’s future is being sacrificed because of its parents’ delusions.” (I knew “they” was in vogue as a pronoun but “it” is a new one.)
I’m going to go mostly left on this one. I don’t see the problem with allowing kids to explore their gender identities and deciding for themselves whether he, she, they or Beyoncé is how they’d like to identify. Knowing a few kids whose parents allow for this kind of exploration probably helps; to my knowledge they are all perfectly healthy and happy. I suspect that most people who think there is something wrong with gender-variant kids don’t know any. And anyway, I think it’s vastly more important that kids have good manners than that they cleave to gender convention. I can abide a cross-dressing child, but I can’t abide a rude one.
That said: I’ve become a little bit uncomfortable in recent years with the zeal that some of my lefty brethren have exhibited for this kind of exploration among children. It’s one thing to give kids the reins on their gender journeys — as Doty is giving them to her baby — but it’s another thing altogether to take the reins from them.
In one of her recent columns, Globe and Mail columnist Leah McLaren writes that she signed her now 4-year-old son up for ballet class because he went through a phase of “rejecting all things ‘girlish.’ ” I’m sure McLaren is a great parent but this attempt to steer a kid toward playing with gender norms by imposing recreational activities on him that he would otherwise avoid, is, I think, a little misguided. So is the suggestion made by British politician Jo Swinson in 2015 that boys should be encouraged to play with dolls so that they may become more nurturing and caring.
But what takes the cake in misguidedness is the notion that parents should actually intervene in play itself. Here’s the Huffington Post last month, extolling the virtues of “norm-challenging parenting” inspired by the Swedish parenting book Show your Child 100 Possible Ways instead of 2: “Move the toys around in your child’s room and put them in new places. Let the Batman action figures move into the toy kitchen. Spiderman can “play house” and Barbie can be the superhero. When participating in your child’s play, try switching and replacing gender pronouns and see what happens; for example, refer to the teddy bear as she if it’s usually called he.”
Or here’s a novel idea: don’t micromanage your kid’s play at all. Let them use their toys as they see fit and if they choose to put Ken in Barbie’s dress (a tight squeeze), or Batman in the bassinet then good for them. Smile and act like it’s no big deal because it isn’t. But intruding in your kids’ play and directing them toward a more gender exploratory path is just as backwards as asking a kid to conform to traditional gender norms. Exploration shouldn’t be an imperative. It should be a known option.
It was for me. I feel very strongly about this not because I have an affinity for traditional gender norms but precisely because I don’t and never did. Like a lot of lesbians, I was a huge tomboy as a kid. I don’t mean I liked to play with my brother’s G.I. Joes. I mean I had my own collection and I didn’t wear girl’s clothes or shop in the girls department until puberty. Until about Grade 3 I was routinely mistaken for a boy — and bullied as a result. But my parents, thank God, were totally accommodating. They didn’t make me play with dolls and they didn’t make me wear dresses. They just let me be.
If I had been born a boy with typical boyish interests I’d like to think they’d have done the same. Letting kids be themselves doesn’t always mean they’re going to be different. And that’s OK. If you want to let your kid choose their gender, go ahead. But respect that choice — even if it’s conventional.
NEW YORK—A leading academic medical centre in New York City has offered to treat Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old infant in Britain who was born with a rare and fatal genetic disease.
European courts have ruled that he should be taken off life support, as there are no effective treatments for his condition. His parents were denied permission to bring him to the United States for experimental therapy.
The court decisions captured the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted Monday that if the United States could help, “we would be delighted to do so.”
In a statement issued Thursday by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, officials agreed to admit Charlie as an in-patient as long as he could be transferred safely and there were no legal or regulatory barriers to treating him with an experimental medication.
Alternately, officials said they would be willing to ship an experimental drug to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where the baby is being treated, if the Food and Drug Administration approves.
U.S. physicians would “advise their medical staff on administering it if they are willing to do so,” the statement said.
Charlie was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of a disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, believed to affect just over a dozen children worldwide. The syndrome prevents cells from producing the energy needed to sustain organs.
The baby was taken to the London hospital Oct. 11, when his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, both in their 30s, noticed he was not growing and could not lift his head. He has been there since, breathing with the help of a ventilator and fed through a tube.
He is deaf and suffers from persistent seizures, and appears to have suffered brain damage.
Researchers at Columbia University have provided an experimental treatment to a child in Baltimore, Art Estopian Jr., suffering from a similar but less severe form of the syndrome.
The child’s father, Art Estopinan, said that he had been contacted by Yates and Chris Gard and in turn had asked the researchers at Columbia University if they could help Charlie as well.
Art Jr. was 18 months old in 2012 when doctors diagnosed a form of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome and said he had less than two months to live.
“Everyone told me the same thing: There is no medication, there is no cure,” Estopinan said.
The treatment, called nucleoside therapy, is not approved by the FDA but can be requested under exceptions for compassionate use.
Estopinan said that, with treatment, his son had slowly but steadily become stronger. Now 6, Art Jr. can’t walk, but he can move his hands and feet.
He breathes with the help of a ventilator, is fed through a tube and needs round-the-clock care.
Estopinan said he was speaking out because “my wife and I believe that little Charlie Gard should be given a chance, because we believe there is hope.”
Yates and Gard have raised about $2.2 million to pay for the experimental treatment and to travel to the United States for care.
OTTAWA–Canadian foreign affairs officials were contemplating a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian President Vladimir Putin, documents obtained by the Star show.
Warming relations between Ottawa and Moscow had senior public servants envisioning a “leaders’ level encounter” between Trudeau and Putin as recently as August 2016.
“Re-engaging (with Russia) is a complex undertaking which understandably elicits a range of views on how best to proceed,” the heavily-censored documents read.
“High-level engagement between our prime minister and his Russian counterpart is an important component of re-engagement.”
The documents, stamped “secret” and obtained under access to information law, lay out the “action plan for re-engaging Russia” taken by the Liberal government under former foreign affairs minister Stephane Dion.
They repeatedly stress Canada’s support for Ukraine, and Ottawa opposition to Russia’s “behaviour” and “actions” in that country. Russia continues to lay claim to Ukraine’s Crimea region, an annexation viewed as illegitimate by Canada and its allies.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, Canadian officials said no such bilateral meeting is in the works. Even if public servants pushed for such a bilateral meeting, their political masters would not likely approve the move.
A one-on-one meeting with Putin could make for some difficult optics for Trudeau, politically and diplomatically, given the ongoing probe into allegations of collusion between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Still, foreign affairs officials outlined several benefits to Canada resuming diplomatic relations with Moscow.
“Multilaterally, an informed and engaged Canada can bring insight and can better support a firm and co-ordinated approach among our partners and allies to address challenges posed by Russia, and to encourage Russia to contribute constructively to international peace and security, including in Syria,” the documents suggest.
It’s not clear if officials were envisioning a formal bilateral meeting, or a conversation on the margins of one of the several international meetings attended by both Trudeau and Putin, such as this week’s G20 summit.
Trudeau and Putin met shortly after the 2015 election. At the G20 meeting in Turkey in November 2015, Trudeau said he told Putin directly to end Russia’s “interference” in Ukraine according to a CBC report from the event.
And much has changed over the last year that makes future formal meetings between the two leaders unlikely.
First, Trudeau replaced Dion with Chrystia Freeland, who has been an outspoken critic of the Putin regime and its annexation of Crimea. In fact, Canada’s new foreign minister is banned from entering Russia.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Freeland said Canada has re-established channels for direct dialogue with Russia, and those efforts are “guided by Canada’s national interests” including in the Arctic and national security issues. Freeland has also met Putin, as well as Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, at separate international meetings.
Second, in an interview with the New York Times in Toronto in June, Trudeau himself publicly accused Russia of interfering in Western elections using cyber attacks — something Canada’s spy agencies were reluctant to do only a week before that interview. Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, has said Canadian troops on a UN mission in Latvia expected a Russian propaganda campaign to undercut support in that country.
Seva Gunitsky, a University of Toronto professor and a close observer of Russia, said he sees little room for improving diplomatic or political relations with Russia so long as they remain in Ukraine.
“It would be extremely difficult, unless they’re thinking something along the lines of a Nixon in China approach that, since we’ve made our position clear (on Ukraine), we won’t be accused of selling out to Russian interests,” Gunitsky said in an interview Tuesday.
“Given Freeland’s appointment, especially, she’s despised in Russia … so it’s hard for me to see the two countries spearheading any kind of meaningful joint initiative beyond public rhetoric.”
The documents mention specific areas of focus, including re-engagement on Arctic issues, co-operation on the International Space Station, and bilateral talks on visa and consular issues.
Potential more significantly, Global Affairs suggests working with the Department of National Defence “to understand how they are affected by the continuing red-line on bilateral military co-operation” with Russia.
Multiple interview requests to the Prime Minister’s Office and a spokesperson for Freeland were not immediately returned on Tuesday.
Vasily Kultyshev, the second secretary at the Russian Federation’s Ottawa embassy, refused to comment on any plans for future bilateral meetings between Trudeau and Putin.
“We appreciate your interest in Russia-Canada relations, but unfortunately we have no comment on the specific case you mentioned,” wrote Kultyshev in an email in June.
“P.S.: Happy Canada Day!”
The federal government has paid former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr $10.5 million as part of a deal to settle his long-standing lawsuit over violations of his rights, The Canadian Press has learned.
Speaking strictly on condition of anonymity, a source familiar with the situation said the Liberal government wanted to get ahead of an attempt by two Americans to enforce a massive U.S. court award against Khadr in Canadian court.
“The money has been paid,” the source said.
Word of the quiet money transfer came on the eve of a hearing in which a lawyer planned to ask Ontario Superior Court to block the payout to Khadr, who lives in Edmonton on bail.
The Toronto lawyer, David Winer, is acting for the widow of an American special forces soldier, Chris Speer, who Khadr is alleged to have killed after a fierce firefight and bombardment by U.S. troops at a compound in Afghanistan in July 2002, and another U.S. soldier, Layne Morris, who was blinded in one eye in the same battle.
Tabitha Speer and Morris two years ago won a default $134.1-million (U.S.) default judgment against Khadr in court in Utah. Khadr was in prison in Canada at the time, after being transferred in 2012 from Guantanamo Bay, where he had spent 10 years.
Legal experts have said the application, aimed at getting any money Khadr might be awarded to satisfy the Utah judgment, would be extremely unlikely to succeed, in part because Khadr’s conviction in Guantanamo Bay runs counter to Canadian public policy.
The American judgment was based almost entirely on the fact that Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes — including killing Speer — before a military commission, which has widely been condemned.
It was not immediately clear Thursday whether the hearing, scheduled for Friday morning, would go ahead given the payout.
Khadr, now 30, has long claimed to have been tortured after American forces captured him, badly wounded, in the rubble of the bombarded compound. He said he confessed only to be allowed to leave Guantanamo and return to Canada, because even an acquittal would not have guaranteed him his freedom.
Supporters have also long pointed to the fact that he was just 15 years old when he committed the acts he confessed to — and therefore he should have been treated as a child soldier in need of protection, not prosecution.
One of Khadr’s Canadian lawyers, John Phillips, said late Tuesday that he could not comment on any payout. A government spokesman did not immediately respond to a query.
A source familiar with the settlement deal said the terms are strictly confidential and that neither Khadr nor anyone involved in negotiating the agreement could discuss it, including whether any compensation was involved.
Word earlier in the week that the government was planning to pay Khadr and apologize to him — yet to be publicly unconfirmed by the government — sparked anger among many Canadians who consider him a terrorist now profiting from his crimes.
HAMBURG—The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a ceasefire in southwest Syria, three U.S. officials said Friday as U.S. President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The deal marks a new level of involvement for the Trump administration in trying to resolve Syria’s civil war. Although details about the agreement and how it will be implemented weren’t immediately available, the ceasefire is set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the ceasefire publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Jordan and Israel also are part of the agreement, one of the officials said. The two U.S. allies both share a border with the southern part of Syria and have been concerned about violence from Syria’s civil war spilling over the border.
The deal is separate from an agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran struck earlier this year to try to establish “de-escalation zones” in Syria where violence would be reduced. The U.S., wary of Iran’s involvement, was not a part of that deal. Followup talks this week in Astana, Kazakhstan, failed to reach agreement on how to finalize a ceasefire in those zones.
Previous ceasefires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long, and it was unclear whether this deal would be any better.
Earlier in the week, Syria’s military had said it was halting combat operations in the south of Syria for four days, in advance of a new round of Russian-sponsored talks in Astana. That move covered southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. Syria’s government briefly extended that unilateral ceasefire, which is now set to expire Saturday — a day before the U.S. and Russian deal would take effect.
The new agreement to be announced Friday will be open-ended, with no set end date, one U.S. official said, describing it as part of broader U.S. discussions with Russia on trying to lower violence in the war-ravaged country. Officials said the U.S. and Russia were still working out the details as Trump and Putin concluded their more than two-hour meeting on Friday.
Implications for Syria aside, the deal marks the biggest diplomatic achievement for the U.S. and Russia since Trump took office. Trump’s administration has approached the notoriously strained relationship by trying to identify a few limited issues on which the countries could make progress, thereby building trust for a broader repair of ties.
For years, the U.S. and Russia have been backing opposing sides in Syria’s war, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad. Both the U.S. and Russia oppose Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria.
The U.S. has been resistant to letting Iran gain influence in Syria — a concern shared by Israel and Jordan, neither of which wants Iranian-aligned troops amassing near their territories. A U.S.-brokered deal could help the Trump administration retain more of a say over who fills the power vacuum left behind as the Daesh is routed from additional territory in Syria.
Though U.S. and Russian officials had been discussing a potential deal for some time, it didn’t reach fruition until the run-up to Trump’s meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Germany, officials said.
Yet ahead of the meeting — Trump’s first with the Russian leader — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signalled that Syria’s civil war would be high on the agenda and potentially the most fruitful area for co-operation given the dismal state of relations between the U.S. and Russia overall.
Tillerson said in a statement before departing for Germany that the U.S. remained open to co-operating with Russia through “joint mechanisms” to lower violence in Syria, potentially including no-fly zones.
“If our two countries work together to establish stability on the ground, it will lay a foundation for progress on the settlement of Syria’s political future,” Tillerson said on Wednesday.
The Trump administration has struggled to determine how actively to involve itself in Syria’s civil war, beyond the U.S.-led fight against the Daesh group there. Although Trump has backed away from the previous U.S. administration’s steadfast demand that Assad leave power, the limited U.S. military forces on the ground in Syria have grown more assertive in recent months, especially as the prospect that IS will soon be defeated has increased the urgency of discussions about Syria’s political future.
In recent weeks, U.S. forces have shot down a Syrian aircraft that got too close to U.S. forces as well drones believed connected to Iranian-backed forces aligned with Assad — another sign of U.S. concern about Tehran’s influence in Syria. Earlier this year, Trump also ordered airstrikes for the first time against Assad’s forces, aiming to punish him for using chemical weapons.
Some of those steps have deepened the rift between the U.S. and Russia over Syria, complicating efforts to work together. Russia, which has bolstered Assad through an aggressive air campaign in recent years, had troops at the Syrian airbase when the U.S. struck. And after the U.S. shot down the Syrian plane, Russia warned it would start considering U.S.-led coalition aircraft over Syria as potential targets.
Tensions have been on the rise recently in southern Syria amid a renewed government offensive on the contested province of Daraa where western backed rebels as well as Islamic militants challenge the Syrian government’s control. Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters have shifted south after the Russian-backed ceasefire that was announced in May and have been getting closer to the border with Jordan, raising concerns in the kingdom.
Israel has also struck Syrian military installations on several occasions in the past few weeks after shells landed into the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights Golan Heights.
Anthony Lue is a cyclist and Paralympics hopeful, but this summer he is taking on a new project — biking and mapping the 85-kilometre Pan Am Path.
Using a streetview camera mounted on an off-road wheelchair, Lue will be photographing and exploring the path in the initiative with AccessNow, Icon Wheelchairs and Google.
The goal is to find out which areas of it need improvement, and present data to city officials in the hopes of creating a trail that is accessible for people of all abilities. They are hoping to finish mapping in the fall, and it could take up to six months after that for Google to finalize the entire 360 map.
Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, an app that maps accessibility in place around the world, said the project’s goals are to share the information and to remove barriers.
“People with disabilities and those who need access are also interested in getting out into the world and experiencing much of our green space and our recreational outdoor space,” Ziv said. “We’re looking for success stories in access, and also mapping barriers, so that we can look at how we can break down some of those barriers.”
The team started mapping the path on July 2, and said they’ve had no trouble on most of the west side of the trail, which runs from Etobicoke down to the waterfront, but the east side needs some improvements.
“We found that going east by the Don, there still are areas that are very much under construction, that we are struggling to get through right now with our Icon explore unit,” Ziv said. “It might take us some time before we’re able to map the rest.”
Jeff Adams, a Paralympic champion and the founder of Icon, designed and assembled the wheelchair with the trekker camera on it, which proved to be a bit tricky.
“It’s 50 pounds, and it being as high as it is, we really needed to reinforce a lot of stuff,” Adams said. “It took two weeks to design it, build it and mount it, which in building stuff terms is fast.”
Lue, 29, is excited that the city is supporting the project and said making the path accessible will help not only those with disabilities, but everyone who uses the trail.
“There are some parts that I’m not able to get to and I’m super glad that the city is taking those steps to make those parts accessible, because it’s not just me, it’s mothers with strollers, fathers pulling their carriages behind their bikes, runners, walkers, whoever it may be,” he said.
Ziv said the team is also interested in running a similar pilot project in Toronto parks, and perhaps later tackle areas like the Bruce Peninsula.
“If we can do this successfully, we can do Ontario parks,” she said. “I’d like to do it all over Canada.”
The duck conquered Toronto. It conquered the cynics, the snarkers and the skinflints. The duck sailed into our harbour and stole the hearts and Instagram accounts of a city.
Well, almost the whole city. In the run-up to the giant inflatable “rubber” duck’s appearance on Toronto’s waterfront throughout Canada Day weekend, many pundits were already deflating the event. Or at least trying to.
Some complained the duck was an import from the States, or it had nothing thematically to do with Ontario 150 or even Canada 150. The cost was an issue too. Others just snarked at the very idea of an inflatable duck. Perhaps it’s just a Twitter thing, where snark is part of the everyday vocabulary, but that noise was so at odds with the public reception of the duck: Toronto fell quickly in love with it.
The duck was part of the Redpath Waterfront Festival, an annual event that gets people down to the water’s edge. Organizers say they surpassed half a million people on the first day alone, beating their weekend record in one day. And they estimate upwards of 750,000 people visited altogether. That’s about the entire population of Winnipeg.
They also say the event will likely exceed the $4.2 million in spinoff economic benefits previous festivals had on the waterfront neighbourhood. It puts the $121,325 Ontario tourism grant the organization got into perspective: this is what it’s for, to generate greater amounts of cash flow into local businesses.
That $121K figure was widely quoted as the cost of the duck alone, but much of it went to line items such as marketing, fencing and security, costs all festivals have, with just $21,000 (U.S.) going to the duck rental.
The result was a packed waterfront. After years, no, decades, of Toronto worry and complaints about an “empty” post-industrial waterfront, there were now complaints about how crowded it was. It was like Toronto was embodying the aphorism “nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded,” attributed to baseballer Yogi Berra. That sentiment seems very Toronto, though, a city still getting used to being a big city.
The duck was a bit of whimsy, a public happiness machine that brought people together, if temporarily, as if one of our sports teams won something big and created a spontaneous coming together. It was also a reason to go down to the waterfront, a reminder that it exists, it’s nice and it’s open for our enjoyment. Toronto is also getting used to having a nice waterfront and has relied on a litany of lazy excuses to deny that for too long.
To this day there are not a few people in this city who think it’s a wasteland despite thousands of new residents and a revamped public realm that includes new parks such as Sugar Beach and HTO, wooden “wave decks” and a redesigned Queens Quay that reopened in 2015.
That it was a bit forlorn for decades, with exceptions such as Harbourfront Centre that date back to the 1970s, and that revitalization efforts were slow to start, may explain why so many minds have been slow to change about the waterfront.
Yogi Berra might have had something to say about the Gardiner, thought by some to be a “barrier” to the waterfront, though it takes less than half a minute to walk under and is now surrounded by buildings. It no longer dominates the waterfront: people and the buildings they work and live in do.
Another perpetual Torontoism is that “ugly” condos somehow block the waterfront. Perhaps a few of the early ones are ugly and ill-thought out, but the claim that they block the waterfront evaporates when you go there and find it’s indeed possible to walk along most of the water’s edge in pleasant or even beautiful surroundings. The evidence of a blocked waterfront just isn’t there, unless one doesn’t like the very presence of residential buildings, a sentiment that, like so much anti-apartment feeling in this city, seems suspiciously misanthropic.
There are kilometres of people-free parkland along the water to the east and west of downtown, if that’s your bag, but all those people who live along Queens Quay have made this part of the waterfront an urban destination with life there nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As the East Bayfront is developed, and George Brown’s waterfront campus and Corus Quay building get new neighbours, all of this will continue.
It will be interesting to watch how the wonderful new Trillium Park that has revitalized the eastern edge of Ontario Place is embraced in the long run. A bike ride at dusk there earlier this week saw many dozens of people out for a stroll or jog, and some just sitting by the lake watching planes take off from the island airport a few hundred metres away. The gates to the yet-to-be revitalized parts of Ontario Place were open, and we cycled by the 1970s modernist buildings and the marina filled with boats.
It felt, for a moment, like a Toronto version of Amsterdam. But Amsterdam has people next to most of its celebrated canals who breathe life into them in summer but also their gloomy winter. Since public outcry during the Ontario Place planning stages a few years ago was resoundingly anti-residential, this part of the waterfront will rely on visitors to populate it. I hope the public still come to see this great place, even in winter, as they would if there were full-time residents there.
That duck, though, it drew crowds of people who’d not yet seen what’s been going on down at the waterfront. The truism “if you build it they will come” is in fact not completely true in Toronto. People need a reason to get out of their neighbourhoods, and the duck was a good one it seems. Programming public spaces with art and culture makes sure our public investment in these shared spaces is capitalized on.
Perhaps the duck wasn’t high art, but it proves people crave some kind of spectacle and will come out when it’s provided. Let’s program more performance and experiential pieces of public art here and elsewhere, ephemeral versions of the sculptures and statues found around town.
Long live the duck. It’s gone on to visit other Ontario cities, but it sure inflated some love along Toronto’s water’s edge.
Shawn Micallef writes every Saturday about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef
Shawn Micallef writes every Saturday about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef
Toronto tenants are facing a tighter squeeze at the first of the month and a tougher hunt for apartments in the wake of Ontario's new Fair Housing plan, which expands rent controls.
The average rent on apartments listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in the second quarter of the year, rose 11 per cent year-over-year, past the $2,000-a-month mark, according to a report from condo research company Urbanation.
President Shaun Hildebrand links the increase to the government's new housing policies announced April 20. Those include extending rent controls to buildings occupied after 1991 and a foreign buyers’ tax that is believed to be a key psychological factor in the subsequent cooling of the housing market.
The number of re-sale home transactions dropped 37 per cent in June. The Toronto Real Estate Board has said many first-time buyers are delaying a purchase, looking at more listings and waiting to see what happens with prices that are still rising year-over-year but declined month-to-month in May and June.
"The decline in housing sales has been pretty swift. As fewer people enter the ownership market — all other factors remaining equal, population growth continues, the job market is very strong — you're going to see that demand filter in somewhere. If they're not buying, they're renting," said Hildebrand.
The number of units that rented on MLS rose 12 per cent year over year in the same period. The 8,328 units that were leased in that quarter surpassed the previous high in the second quarter of 2015 of 8,202.
The number of active listings fell 13 per cent from a year ago to 1,125 apartments. That's equal to only two weeks’ supply, according to Urbanation, which has been tracking rents since 2011 but doesn't measure rentals let through online listings sites such as Kijiji or other means.
"For the first time since we've been tracking that market the rents are starting to jump. Usually they grew at sort of a modest pace and that 11 per cent growth we saw was really out of the ordinary," said Hildebrand.
Landlords are also pushing rents higher in an effort to offset what they perceive as lost future rent growth, he said.
"One of the unintended consequences of the rent control extension is the fact that the rents in new buildings that are coming up for occupancy, which aren't rent controlled because they are on the open market, are going to come up at increasingly higher rates," he said.
Because the vacancy rate is so low — under 1 per cent — tenants are going to face fierce competition to rent those places, said Hildebrand.
"The overall cost of renting, if you're (looking) to move or coming into the rental market for the first time, is only going to continue to increase much higher than the rent controlled guidelines," he said.
WASHINGTON—Seeking influence with U.S. leaders who are not President Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau will be the first Canadian prime minister to deliver a speech to a major conference of American state governors.
Trudeau will give the keynote address at the National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island next Friday, just over a month before the expected launch of North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation talks.
Trudeau’s address will focus on trade, his government said in a news release, and he “will also emphasize the importance of the Canada-U.S. partnership in cross-border security and the potential for common solutions on climate change.”
The address is part of Trudeau’s effort to build relationships with U.S. leaders outside of Trump’s administration. On the whole, state governors are far more pro-NAFTA than Trump, who calls the deal a “catastrophe.”
Former diplomat Colin Robertson called the speech a “smart tactic” that can only help Canada in NAFTA talks. Canada is the top export market for most of the states Trump won, he noted, and governors are “very conscious about trade and jobs generated by trade.”
“We are seeing governors talking about the importance of Canada-U.S. trade to their states,” Robertson said.
While Canadian federal governments have long pursued ties with U.S. state governments, Trudeau, confronted with a president skeptical of multilateral pacts and the international order more generally, has made sub-presidential connections a greater priority than his predecessors.
Canadian premiers and federal legislators regularly attend National Governors Association meetings, but no Canadian prime minister has spoken there since its founding in 1908, according to U.S. State Department records.
“Not in modern times have we had a sitting Canadian Prime Minister deliver a keynote address at either our Winter or Summer Meeting,” said association spokesperson Elena Waskey.
Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have also been invited, Waskey said. They have not publicly said if they will attend.
Trudeau signalled his intention to work with states on climate change in his June statement responding to Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. He said then that “Canada will continue to work with the U.S. at the state level, and with other U.S. stakeholders, to address climate change and promote clean growth.”
The last foreign leader to address the governors meeting was Colombian President Andres Pastrana in 2001, according to State Department records.
An attempt by the widow of a U.S. soldier and another soldier wounded in battle to freeze the government’s compensation to Omar Khadr began in an Ontario Superior Court Friday morning, despite the fact that the $10.5 million settlement has already been paid.
Toronto lawyer David Winer, who represents U.S. Delta Force soldier Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer’s family and retired Sgt. Layne Morris, who was wounded in the July 2002 firefight where Khadr was shot and captured, appeared briefly to ask for an “urgent hearing” into the matter.
A date was set for Thursday.
Justice Thomas McEwen asked Winer if the “thrust of the suit” in the original application he filed was lost if the money had already been paid to Khadr and his lawyers. Winer said he would file updated material in the case by Monday.
The government paid Khadr and his lawyers this week.
The application is asking the court to enforce a $134-million wrongful death claim that was awarded by default to Speer and Morris two years ago in Utah. In the interim, they want his funds frozen.
But if the money is no longer in an account in Khadr’s name, any attempts to freeze the funds may be meaningless. Khadr’s lawyers would not comment on the details of the settlement that was finalized behind closed doors with lawyers from the Department of Justice on June 22.
It took the government two weeks after the deal was reached in June to provide Khadr and his lawyers with the money — after news had leaked about the settlement, sparking controversy and debate across the country in the case that has divided Canadians for nearly 15 years.
Edmonton-based lawyer Nathan Whitling, who was not in court Friday but will represent Khadr in the matter, said he believes the Utah ruling is not valid in Canada since Khadr’s guilt in based on a Guantanamo conviction.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has already found that Guantanamo is contrary to our values and principles,” he said in a telephone interview Friday morning.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will hold a press conference at 11:45 Friday, where it is expected they will apologize to Khadr on behalf of the government and confirm the settlement.
A six-year-old boy has died after being struck by a vehicle in Richmond Hill on Friday afternoon while riding his bike.
York Region police said the boy died on scene after colliding with a moving truck around 12:10 p.m. at Taylor Mills Dr. and Newkirk Rd.
The intersection is closed for investigation. The driver of the vehicle remained on scene and York Region paramedics said he was taken to hospital with minor injuries at 12:50 p.m.
This is the second time this week a child has died in a car accident in York Region.
On Wednesday, a four-year-old girl died and two other children were taken to hospital in critical condition after a two-vehicle collision in East Gwillimbury.
Veteran city councillor and social justice advocate Pam McConnell has died. She was 71.
McConnell, who represented Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, was first elected to city council in 1994, after serving for 12 years as a school trustee. She was also one of the city’s deputy mayors.
She died July 7 after suffering from a continuing problem with her lungs.
“Throughout her 35 years of public service she moved mountains — in her Ward with Regent Park, the Distillery District and Corktown Common and across the city as deputy mayor working on poverty reduction,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher, a longtime friend and colleague.
“She was well respected by all councillors and always took the time to be kind even in the heat of argument in city council.”
As a scheduled debate at city council continued after lunch on Friday, councillors who had received the news could be seen quietly spreading the word to their colleagues who gasped, placed their heads in their hands, and disappeared to a members-only area for a private moment.
Staff made their way into the chamber as Tory officially announced McConnell’s death, calling her “an example of public service in every respect.”
“Pam was a friend to all of us, but also a friend to many, many others and of course was a wife, a mother, and a grandmother — and how proud she was of her family,” Tory said.
“We knew her as well as a woman who proudly and enthusiastically and energetically served her city and the people of Toronto for more than 35 years in many different capacities. And I don’t think there’s any question whatsoever that Toronto is a better and fairer place and city thanks to her service and also thanks to her advocacy.”
Everyone present in the chamber stood for a moment of silence. When it was over, councillors wrapped their arms around each other. Others remained motionless in their seats.
As the room slowly cleared, a T-shirt was placed over McConnell's desk as a shroud, with bold type facing upwards: End poverty.
Throughout her political career, McConnell was a passionate advocate for social justice, and led the way, in her seventh and final term, for the city’s poverty-reduction strategy.
“Poverty is everybody’s business,” McConnell told the Star in 2015 after the strategy was released.
“The survival and prosperity of Toronto demands that we pay attention to moving as many Torontonians as possible down the road from poverty to prosperity,” she said.
McConnell’s fight for a reduction in poverty lasted decades. In her days as a school trustee, she helped found Parents for Better Beginnings in Regent Park, an early childhood learning program that continues to serve families today.
In more recent years, she worked tirelessly to revitalize the entire neighbourhood.
“Pam was an exceptional advocate for her constituents and for those less well off city wide,” said former mayor David Miller, in a statement.
“Her passion to make a meaningful positive difference in people’s lives will be sorely missed at city hall.”
In Regent Park, McConnell championed an approach to community building that emphasized a social development plan and “revitalization without long-term displacement,” said Tim Jones, the CEO of Artscape, a not-for-profit urban development organization.
“The model that evolved . . . had her fingerprints all over it, and it’s one of the reasons that the revitalization has the support it has in the community.”
She was also an ardent champion of the arts.
“As a city builder, she really understood the role that the arts can play in bringing people together, in building community, fostering social cohesion,” he said.
A long time member of the NDP, McConnell was known for her ability to bring people together, regardless of their political affiliation or their particular views on an issue.
Councillor Jaye Robinson, who sat near McConnell in the council chamber for the past six years, said “She was a very feisty individual, very passionate about her work at city hall.”
“She was a fighter,” Robinson said. “She invested the time that needed to be invested to move her issues through council, which is not always easy when you’re dealing with 44 people.”
It’s an approach she took to her work as a member of the Toronto Police Services Board, where she served from late 2003 to 2010. There, McConnell fought to address racial profiling and bring community policing back to Toronto’s neighbourhoods.
Early in her tenure, McConnell served as vice-chair of the board under the chairmanship of Toronto lawyer Alan Heisey. Politically it was a tumultuous time as both the municipal and provincial governments had recently changed.
“We sort of went through a crucible of fire together,” said Heisey, who was also a constituent of the long-time councillor.
Despite finding themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum — he was a Conservative — Heisey said he was a “big fan” of McConnell.
“Pam’s great gift was that although you knew she was a lefty, she never let it get in the way of consensus,” he said.
“Some people make politics a career, and, for her I think it was a vocation.”
She “really did care about people,” Heisey said.
As McConnell resigned from her own stint as chair of the board in 2005, Star columnist Royson James, wrote that she was “tough, resolute, pointed and opinionated, intractable on matters of principle and single-minded in pursuing an agenda.”
“McConnell is never an easy one to like. She talks too much, seems too stubborn and sets political masters like Miller on pins and needles when she gets cranked up,” he continued.
“But she did the impossible; she helped turn around the board’s image in a year and has set it on a course towards respectability.”
Over the years, McConnell’s service has extended beyond the borders of Toronto. She represented the city at the Board of Directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities from 1999 onward, founding its standing committee on increasing women’s participation in municipal government during that time.
Twice, she was awarded for her service to the community — once from the Duke of Edinburgh for her work with inner city youth in 1997, and, in 2013, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal, for her decades of public service.
The news of McConnell’s death follows a difficult term for Toronto’s city council, which has already faced the loss of two councillors: Former mayor Rob Ford died after treatment for a rare form of cancer in March 2016, and long-time Ward 44 councillor Ron Moeser died in April after being diagnosed with lymphoma the year before.
With files from Laurie Monsebraaten, Betsy Powell and Jennifer Pagliaro
With files from Laurie Monsebraaten, Betsy Powell and Jennifer Pagliaro
This story has been updated to correct a quote by Tim Jones which should have said the Regent Park revitalization project emphasized “revitalization without long-term displacement.”
More than 27,000 people in Toronto were arrested for possessing marijuana from 2003 to 2013, a Star analysis reveals. Nearly one-quarter of them were aged 12 to 18.
The data obtained by the Star also indicates that possession arrests and charges rose wherethe “carding” of residents by police was widespread. And just as this police practice of stopping, questioning and documenting impacted Black people disproportionately, so did marijuana charges.
About one in five people arrested were released unconditionally with no charges going to court, but their names and noted offences remain in a police database.
All of the offences — 40,634 for possession and possession for the purpose of trafficking, over the decade covered by the data — are documented in the Toronto Police Service arrest and charge database, regardless of whether a charge was tested in court.
Of those charges, 34 per cent of them were against Black people. During that period, Toronto’s Black population was around 8 per cent.
Police note that in about half of the cases, an arrested individual was facing another criminal charge or charges, not related to marijuana possession. Outcomes of court cases are not part of the data released to the Star in a freedom-of-information request.
This rare, race-based glimpse at those most impacted by marijuana arrests and charges confirms anecdotal evidence of systemic bias, and highlights a challenge faced by the federal Liberal government. As it moves to legalize marijuana by July 2018, what should it do for citizens with possession records? Pardons are an expensive and bureaucratic process, so some have suggested a widespread amnesty.
There are calls for the government to tackle the almost century-long legacy of marijuana laws, and their disproportionate impact on poor and non-white communities, particularly Black and Indigenous peoples.
A poll in May by Nanos Research and the Globe and Mail indicated 62 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support a pardon — now known as a record suspension — for people with a criminal record for marijuana possession. Of the respondents, 35 per cent were opposed or somewhat opposed to a pardon.
The C.D. Howe Institute in a 2016 report also called on the federal government to pardon people whose only Criminal Code charge or conviction is for marijuana possession.
“Such individuals would benefit in terms of not experiencing possible travel restrictions and being able to access more labor market opportunities, resulting in economic benefits to governments as well,” said the report, written by Anindya Sen, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo.
A criminal record for marijuana further marginalizes already “targeted and over-policed” black people by making them ineligible for many good-paying jobs, says Kofi Hope, executive director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals.
Faced with high unemployment, some Black youths turned to selling marijuana to make ends meet, says Hope, whose centre provides skills training and career development programs for young Black people.
“It doesn’t require a resumé, it doesn’t require a job interview, sometimes it doesn’t even require start-up capital — someone will just give you something on consignment,” he says. Besides, Black people are constantly confronted with the expectation of being dealers: “You walk down Yonge St. and people come up to you all the time, ‘Hey man, you got weed?’”
Selling, at least in some forms, will soon become legal. But when it comes to the legalized marijuana industry, marijuana convictions will likely exclude people from jobs. Meanwhile, everyone from the Tragically Hip to Shoppers Drug Mart is poised to cash in on the new economy.
Hope says this further injustice isn’t lost on the Black community. “You often hear people say, ‘People in the community have had their lives ruined by consuming this substance or being involved in distributing it. And now, folks from outside of the community are going to be making hundreds of millions of dollars off of this. This is messed up.’”
He wants the federal government to give people with marijuana records a chance to work in the new economy through programs similar to Smart Serve Ontario, which trains and certifies people for work in businesses that serve alcohol.
In Toronto, a first arrest for simple possession often results in an unconditional release or “diversion” — a donation to charity, for example. The accused walks away without a criminal record, but the arrest remains in police databases and can haunt, particularly during carding stops.
(Aggregate data from 2014 to 2016 sent to the Star by Toronto police shows a sharp decline in the use of unconditional releases for marijuana possession charges. Police were not immediately able to explain the reasons for the decrease.)
Those with influence and the money to afford good lawyers are especially assured of diversion, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made clear earlier this year. He told the story of how his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, had the resources to make sure marijuana charges against Justin’s late brother Michel did not lead to a criminal record “for life.”
“He reached out to his friends in the legal community, got the best possible lawyer and was very confident that he was going to be able to make those charges go away,” said Trudeau, who has also admitted to smoking pot.
“People from minority communities, marginalized communities, without economic resources, are not going to have that kind of option to go through and clear their name in the justice system,” he said, adding that a “fundamental unfairness of this current system is that it affects different communities in a different way.”
What will Trudeau do for those without his family’s privilege and wealth?
The government has hinted that some sort of plan to address criminal records would be rolled out once marijuana is legal. Caitlyn Kasper, a lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto, says there hasn’t been serious thought about what that should look like.
“It just seems like that discussion hasn’t been happening at all and it really feels like they’re riding this wave of legalization, and how great it’s going to be with the Cannabis Act, and how this is putting us forward into the future — and they’re not taking a look at what it’s done in the past at all,” says Kasper. “And that is seriously concerning.”
Defence lawyers and academics call marijuana possession a “gateway charge,” because it often leads to more serious charges and convictions when bail conditions are broken, particularly for whose who can’t afford lawyers. Automatic jail time often results.
A growing number of voices are calling for amnesty, a way of wiping possession records clean and giving people a fresh start, particularly in the job market.
“Amnesty is an economic and social imperative,” says Hope. “But first and foremost it’s a moral imperative.
“There should be an amnesty because the application of the (marijuana) law was unjust and biased,” he says, adding it was “arbitrarily enforced along race lines.”
Untangling criminal records for pot offences from other offences is going to be difficult and expensive.
Without an amnesty, the only route to clearing a record would be applying for a pardon, or record suspension— an expensive and onerous option that costs hundreds of dollars and require legal help. The application processing fee alone costs $631. The poor and racially marginalized would again lose out.
“It’s the same story all the time in the justice system,” says Kasper. “Those who can pay for and afford justice will get it.
“If they were serious about this, why are they not engaging with more groups who are directly legally representing the people who have been most affected by these laws?”
KAMLOOPS, B.C.—Ground and air crews are preparing for another intense day battling dozens of out-of-control wildfires that are raging across British Columbia’s central interior.
The continuing hot, dry and often windy conditions are making it a desperate struggle, one that evacuees throughout the region are watching with increasing anxiety.
More than 173 fires ignited on Friday prompting the declaration of a rare province-wide state of emergency. The BC Wildfire Service says nearly 100 new fires sprang up Saturday and crews were battling a total of at least 183 blazes, many of which remained uncontained.
The three biggest fires range in size from approximately 14 to 20 square kilometres and have forced thousands of people from their homes in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House, 150 Mile House and the Alexis Creek area.
Precise evacuee numbers for the entire province were not released Saturday, but the Cariboo Regional District estimated that as many as 6,000 people were forced from their homes.
The province has been marshalling all the personnel it can to battle the flames, protect property and try to keep people safe.
More than 1,000 firefighters are on scene, supported by heavy equipment and helicopters. Another 600 personnel are backing them up, plus some 200 contractors, and an additional 260 firefighters are being recruited from other parts of Canada.
Despite the herculean efforts of the crews Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said a fire burning between Ashcroft and Cache Creek had destroyed dozens of buildings, including at least five houses, 30 trailer park homes and two hangars at a regional airport.
Cliff Chapman, the deputy manager at the Kamloops Fire Centre, suggested Saturday was a day he’d never forget.
“I’ve been in this business for 17 years, from crew all the way up to where I am now, and I haven’t experienced a day like we experienced yesterday,” he said.
Two young men have died after their inflatable boat overturned in rough water near the mouth of the Nottawasaga River in Wasaga Beach Saturday afternoon.
Wasaga Beach Fire and Emergency Management reported that the men, each about 26 years old, were boating in “rough water conditions” on Georgian Bay when the boat capsized.
One man was from Collingwood, the other lived in Caledon. They were renting a cottage on River Road East.
“Witnesses on shore saw the two men struggling in the waves then disappear,” Fire Chief Michael McWilliam said in an email.
The department received the call at about 12:55 p.m. Several units responded, along with police and Ontario Parks crews. They searched the water and recovered the bodies of the men. CPR and advanced life saving measures were performed, but efforts to revive the men were unsuccessful. They were pronounced dead at 2:35 p.m.
Ontario Provincial Police said the search lasted for about one hour and waves more than two metres high were reported at the time of the incident.
The men were not wearing personal floatation devices when they were removed from the water. Police said alcohol was not a factor and the deaths are not considered suspicious.
The post-interview question — friendly parting banter it seemed — was innocuous enough.
“What are you doing for the weekend?” Dr. Andrew Boozary asked his inquisitor, whom he’d first met 90 minutes earlier on a recent Friday afternoon.
Told the reporter was moving furniture, Boozary’s reply was unexpected.
“Would you like a hand?” he said, with a sincerity that is apparently familiar to those who know him.
“That doesn’t surprise me in the least,” laughs Dr. Danielle Martin, one of the nation’s most prominent health-care activists and a key mentor to the young St. Michael’s Hospital resident.
“In fact, I’ve made him move heavy furniture in my house many times,” says Martin, who has semi-adopted Boozary into her extended family.
Boozary, who as a boy aspired to be a tennis star at a Pete Sampras level, has the slender waist and broad-backed frame of an accomplished player.
Yet he’s shouldered far weightier matter than tournament trophies and couches during a medical career that’s still in the training phase.
Since graduating from the University of Ottawa medical school in 2013, the 31-year-old Boozary has:
Boozary — who is doing a residency in family medicine at St. Mike’s Sherbourne St. clinic — also took a year off his Ottawa training to earn a Master of Public Policy degree, at the top of his class, from Princeton University.
“He’s a superstar, I really think he is,” says Martin, a vice-president at Women’s College Hospital and a founder and past chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
Martin says Boozary “has a rare combination” of strong humanitarian values, commitment to clinical excellence and expertise in both health-care policy and scientific research.
“That kind of quadruple threat means that he’s destined to do great work over the course of his career.”
Not a bad prognosis for the son of an Iranian refugee, who grew up in Toronto’s gritty St. James Town neighbourhood and had no medical aspirations, or even an interest in science, until he was approaching his 20s.
“I was lucky to have great mentors,” Boozary says, naming Martin and Dr. Jeff Turnbull, chief of staff at The Ottawa Hospital, among others.
And for his part, Turnbull says he was just as fortunate to have Boozary as a student — and to watch his talents mature.
His foundational work with Open Pharma, for example, reveals leadership skills rarely seen in a freshman physician, says Turnbull.
“He is just exceptionally bright and thoughtful — and bright in a good way in terms of being able to see the important issues,” says Turnbull, who was also department chair of medicine at the University of Ottawa from 2001 to 2008.
“And he combines that brightness with very good values, so it’s a very powerful combination.”
The Open Pharma group is seeking federal legislation that would force pharmaceutical companies to disclose any money or gifts they give to doctors, research centres, hospitals, clinics or medical schools.
This “sunshine list” would include such things as speaking fees, trips, meals and drinks, research funding or concert and sporting event tickets paid for out of deep industry pockets.
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced last month that he will begin consultations this summer on whether pharmaceutical companies should reveal such payments, the Star’s David Bruser and Jesse McLean reported.
The announcement came after 10 major drug companies voluntarily released data showing they paid nearly $50 million to Canadian health-care professionals and organizations last year.
Boozary said at the time that the disclosure by just 10 companies did little to inform the public about the financial relationships their doctors may have with drug firms — and the potential conflicts that come with them.
Along with Martin, Open Pharma’s potent lineup includes Dr. Andreas Laupacis, executive director of St. Mike’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and the University of Toronto’s Adalsteinn Brown, who serves as director of the school’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and its Dalla Lana Chair in Public Health Policy.
Toronto doctors David Juurlink and Nav Persaud and University of Toronto professor Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi also sit on the advisory board.
Yet Boozary has certainly been a leader among these luminaries, Turnbull says. But true to the young physician’s modest inclinations, he says, Boozary would certainly downplay his role.
And he does.
“I wouldn’t say in any way I am leading them,” Boozary says, pushing his upturned palms out for emphasis.
“There has been terrific leadership on this issue for decades across the country.”
The issue, Boozary says, is one that obviously leaves Canada’s medical profession open to suspicions of industry chicanery – even if none exists.
And it’s also one that’s so obviously solvable that almost every other country with advanced medical systems has done so, Boozary says.
Even in the U.S., where the industry funds vast lobbying efforts, transparency was codified during negotiations for President Barack Obama’s now beleaguered Affordable Care Act, Boozary says.
“If they can do it down there … with a huge pharma lobby breathing down their necks, how are we not?” he says.
That the issue has not been properly addressed here may well be a symptom of the complacency that Canadians have come to feel about their health-care system — especially in light of a push in the U.S. Congress to cut coverage.
“There’s a huge amount of trust and belief in our health-care system,” he says.
“For a long time, maybe we’ve given the benefit of the doubt to industry players and maybe felt that as long as there were no scandals and issues that folks could see” that things were fine.
Yet Boozary stresses that his group is not set on exposing any scandals at all.
“I’m not trying to say that by doing this that we’re going to reveal this huge amount of nefarious activity and all this dirt under the rug,” he says.
“I just think that the issue is (that) people would like to see standards about how we’re doing things … to bolster the trust in the system.”
Still, Boozary has a veteran’s grasp of Open Pharma’s prospects, even in his youthful enthusiasm about its merits and growing support.
“You start to realize (that) in almost all of your (health system) research or public advocacy, things don’t really change all that fast or maybe ever,” he says.
“But you know, you just try to see what you can try to do.”
Boozary says his move into public advocacy had many sources, including Martin’s mentorship. (As a medical student, Boozary became a board member of her pro-medicare group.)
But none may be more important than his own childhood circumstances and the family history that arranged them.
The Sherbourne St. clinic where he now trains is a milling medical hive and many of his patients would come there from the highrise warrens that line nearby Rose Ave. and Charles St. It’s the part of town where he spent his first decade.
His father, Majeed, was an Iranian-trained doctor who fled his homeland after being imprisoned and abused during the revolution that brought the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power in the late 1970s.
Like so many professionals who land in this country as refugees, however, the elder Boozary found his credentials were not recognized here, and he was forced to take jobs painting houses and driving cabs for more than a decade.
But the family’s working class status shifted to comfortable middle class – almost instantaneously — when the elder Boozary was finally able to upgrade his medical credentials during at stint at Toronto’s old Wellesley Hospital when his son was 9 or 10. Andrew has a younger sister, Tanya.
Rather than bemoan the relative privation the country’s strict licensing requirements first forced on his family, Boozary was grateful for the opportunities that Canada eventually offered them.
“Social justice was a very early concept for us … from my parents’ background — from my family’s issues of what they’ve had to do to prevail and be here and the opportunities that Canada gave us,” he says.
“My family would not have had the privileges and opportunities that they’ve had if (they) had not been fortunate enough to raise a family in Canada.”
That good fortune — Boozary would decide — obliged him to give back in the social justice currency that had fostered it.
“There was always a lot of appreciation of that from the beginning and an understanding that (it) can come with social responsibility,” he says.
As much as his father’s career and financial resuscitation sparked a sense of social justice for Boozary, it was his mother’s thinking that nurtured it most.
Sholeh Boozary trained in human rights law in her native Iran, before immigrating to Canada during the revolution.
She met and married Majeed in Montreal, but she did not pursue a law career here — devoting her attentions to raising Andrew and Tanya. (Tanya is also pursuing a medical degree in Ottawa.)
“But she (his mother) really pushed me on these things, thinking about social justice and human rights,” her son says.
“She also wanted (us) to follow whatever dreams we had of trying to make the world a better place … to do what we can to improve the social condition.”
(And his mother still plays a big part in his daily life. Told recently his cellphone voicemail was full, Boozary said that would almost certainly be his mother’s doing.)
Whatever the sources of his social advocacy ambitions, however, Boozary never intended to pursue them in the medical field.
Despite its being his father’s career — he still has a family practice in Richmond Hill — Boozary had no interest in medicine when he entered the University of Western Ontario (now Western University) as an undergraduate in economics with law school aspirations.
“I was into economics and law because I felt you could make the case for human rights having the science of economics and making the case from the legal perspective,” he says.
“But I dropped out after first semester and a lot of friends probably thought I’d went off and smoked a lot,” he says.
What he did instead was go back and upgrade the science courses he’d ignored or fluffed off through high school. Boozary says he had decided that he could accomplish more within Canada’s universal health-care system to better the lives of the less fortunate.
When he returned to Western the following year, he enrolled as a medical science student.
Boozary, who is single, and his colleagues at the Sherbourne St. facility work “brutal” hours, but he still takes time for his beloved sports.
Aside from playing tennis, Boozary is also an avid football and baseball fan, though he picked up an unfortunate affinity for Boston franchises during his time at Harvard, where he went after med school.
He also has an ability to memorize sports statistics — and can rhyme off every baseball player who’s combined 40 homers with 40 steals in a single season, for example.
He denies claims of some friends, however, that he has a photographic memory.
“I think I’ve been fortunate to be able to remember certain details about certain things,” he says.
“But I’ll say (the people who attribute the memory wizardry) are wrong. I struggled (through school) in certain subjects like everybody else.”
Still, the range of Boozary’s interests, work and capabilities often leaves Turnbull agog.
“By now you’re sort of saying ‘well, what doesn’t this guy do well?’ ” he says.
“Which is kind of the thing I ask … it makes the rest of us mere mortals look like slouches.”
Though he longs to travel, and will doubtless attract Ivy League employment offers, Boozary is adamant that he’ll pursue a family medicine career in Canada — with an emphasis on pain management, addiction and refugee health issues.
“The only place I’ve ever wanted to practise medicine and do my training was in Canada where we don’t have to look at these issues of forms and bills and clerks about whether a patient is a Medicaid patient or a Medicare patient or a private insurance patient,” he says.
“And there’s just a social responsibility I feel being here. That’s my real dream, to have that happen.”
A Mohawk farmer embroiled in a bitter land dispute is prohibited from entering a parcel of land near Six Nations of the Grand River after an interim injunction was granted against her.
To Kristine Hill, 52, it’s a direct threat to her livelihood, as well as the 25 farmhands employed by her. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake, she said.
Hill was growing beans, tobacco and flint corn on the Burtch lands, about 380 acres slightly west of the reserve’s boundary. Some crops circulate through her community and are used for traditional ceremonies
“The crops can’t be tended to and they’re definitely put at risk now,” she said. “I have put a significant investment into the fields over the last three years.”
Hill is caught in the crossfire between Six Nations Elected Band Council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a historic union of five First Nations that issued a five-year lease to her. The Confederacy wants the land, south of Hamilton, to be independent from the Canadian government, citing expropriation concerns. The band council wants it to become part of the reserve and use it as it sees fit.
The case before the Superior Court of Justice was adjourned last week and a two-day trial is slated for Aug. 17 and 18.
Ava Hill, Six Nations’ elected chief, refused to comment on the matter, saying that she has been advised to not speak with the media because the issue is before the courts.
“One thing I will say is that we are currently doing outreach to the community, who this land is being held for, to get their input on what they would like to see the Burtch lands used for,” she said via email.
Toronto lawyer Ben Jetton is representing the band council, along with the federal corporation it established in March to hold the land in trust until it officially becomes reserve land.
The interim injunction prevents “(Kristine) Hill from continuing to be on the property, or anyone else for that matter,” he said. “She’s required to vacate the property and has to cease farming activities. It restrains her agents, servants or representatives from trespassing, from interfering with our client’s use of the property.
“Ultimately, it’s to allow the elected council to deal with its own property and decide going forward who shall use it at Six Nations.”
Hill said the band council did not adequately consult the community about its plans.
“Six Nations Elected Council decided behind closed doors, without an announcement to the community, that it was going to farm Burtch this year,” she said. “The whole intent of them supposedly taking the land into the corporation was to get the input from the community on what they were going to do at first.”
Ontario Provincial Police were spotted outside the area, she said.
“What’s concerning me now is the OPP are intending on, or have already, set up an outpost at the location,” she said. “They definitely have a presence. We see them. They’ve communicated there’s escalating tensions.”
This isn’t the first time pressure has built in the community. The dispute is linked to the 2006 Caledonia standoff that saw First Nations people construct blockades and occupy a housing development called the Douglas Creek Estates. A subdivision was to be built on territory granted to the Haudenosaunee people for their ties to the British military during the American Revolution, which took place between 1775 and 1783.
Ontario ameliorated tensions by transferring land back to Six Nations. A 2006 letter signed by former Ontario premier David Peterson and sent to the Confederacy states that “The title of the Burtch lands will be included in the lands rights process of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations/Canada/Ontario. It is the intention that the land title be returned to its original state, its status under the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.”
An abandoned jail that stood on the parcel was demolished and a multi-year environmental remediation project was undertaken to decontaminate soil laced with asbestos.
Peterson’s letter wasn’t addressed to the band council, said David Schiller, Hill’s defence lawyer, but to the Confederacy.
“The elected council didn’t exist until 1924, so I’m not sure how returning title to a numbered company that has some relationship with the elected council could be returning it to its original state,” he said.
Hill said it’s heart-wrenching every time she drives by the property since being ordered off the property.
“I never wanted our people to get into this situation where they’re fighting with each other,” she said. “There is outcry from the community in terms of what the elected council is doing. They’re supposed to represent the community.”
HAMBURG, GERMANY—Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, took his seat at a Group of 20 meeting table in Hamburg, sitting in for the U.S. president when he stepped away for one-on-one discussions with other world leaders.
A photo on Twitter showed Ivanka Trump, 35, sitting in her father’s seat between Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Also seated nearby were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
One official who was watching the session said Ivanka Trump had taken her father’s place at the table on at least two occasions on Saturday, but didn’t speak.
A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump said she’d been in the back of the room and then briefly joined the main table when the president stepped out. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim addressed the session, on “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health” — an area that would benefit from a facility that Ivanka Trump and the World Bank had announced shortly before the meeting, the spokesperson said.
G20 leaders can bring staff into the room for some of the meetings, and when other leaders stepped out during Saturday’s session their places were also briefly taken by others. Ivanka Trump serves as an unpaid adviser to her father, with the title assistant to the president and an office in the West Wing of the White House.
But her presence at the table is the sort of blurring of lines — between family and official business— that Donald Trump is often criticized for, and it would be unusual for other world leaders to have their children or other family members step in for them. Later in the meeting, Trump’s wife, Melania, joined the U.S. delegation in the room while the president was in the chair.
Asked about Ivanka Trump sitting in on G20 meetings, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the president’s daughter has in the past sat in on meetings with Haley and the president that involve issues she cares about. “She’s got her certain issues that she focuses on, and when those things come up, then that’s where she is and that’s what she likes to focus on,” Haley said, in a transcript of an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation that is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday.
At a news conference later, Merkel — the host leader of the G20 in Hamburg — said it’s up to the individual nations who represents them. “The delegations themselves decide, should the president not be present for a meeting, who will then take over and sit in the chair,” Merkel said. “Ivanka Trump was part and parcel of the American delegation so that is something that other delegations also do. It’s very well known that she works at the White House and is also engaged in certain initiatives.”
The photo was tweeted by the Russian sherpa to the G20, Svetlana Lukash, who wrote that Ivanka Trump “replaces Pres Trump at the #G20 table as he leaves for bilateral meetings.”
Earlier in the day, Ivanka Trump took part in a World Bank event on a fund for women entrepreneurs that she’s actively involved in. The president praised her work on the fund at the event.
“I’m very proud of my daughter Ivanka, always have been from day one. I have to tell you that, from day one,” Donald Trump said. “If she weren’t my daughter it’d be so much easier for her. It might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.”
A motorcyclist is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after a collision in the Township of Brock on Saturday.
The 59-year-old man from Fergus was driving a motorcycle west on Torah Concession 5 when a white Ford pickup truck heading north on Osborne St. collided with it in the intersection, police say. The motorcyclist was thrown from his bike and had to be airlifted from the local hospital to a Toronto hospital.
Durham Regional Police were called to the scene of the collision just after 4:30 p.m.
The driver of the pickup truck, a 31-year-old Markham man, stayed on the scene with the three passengers of his vehicle, and cooperated with police. The driver were not injured.